Abstract # 13366 Event # 50:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 22, 2019 02:00 PM-02:15 PM: (Room 325) Oral Presentation


INSIGHTS FROM STUDIES OF HUMAN PERCEPTION ON OBSERVATIONAL BIAS IN PRIMATE FIELD STUDIES

P. E. Jelinek1, S. A. Garber2 and P. A. Garber1
1University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Department of Anthropology, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA, 2DePaul University College of Law
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     A primary goal of field primatology is to objectively and accurately record the frequency, context, and outcomes of social interactions. In order to accomplish this, researchers rely on data collecting techniques that involve group scans and/or the continuous monitoring of behavioral and ecological information involving multiple individuals. Given that studies of perception and memory indicate that as the amount of information viewed increases, attention is divided and humans fail to accurately notice objects, details, and events that are clearly visible, we explored issues of observational bias by having 600 undergraduate students score the social interactions of two, three, or four marked chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in a series of 9 one-minute videos. Students viewed the videos on their personal computer and recorded the presence or absence of 10 behaviors. Using multivariate linear regression, we found that, in general, as the number of chimpanzees monitored and the complexity of social interactions increased, observational accuracy decreased (alpha = 0.05). The primary exceptions occurred in the context of highly aggressive and appeasement interactions. Accuracy in recording these behaviors increased with behavioral complexity at the expense of more subtle behaviors such as grooming, standing, and touching, which decreased in scoring accuracy. We discuss the tradeoff researchers face in collecting detailed data on primate social interactions in the wild and in captivity and the observational biases inherent in collecting those data.